Sleep matters. And it matters so much that a fitful night of sleep can leave someone cranky and irritable the entire next day. One way to ensure a great night of sleep is by investing in a good mattress. Yes, we used the term ‘investment’ because it’s nothing less than that, if you care for your quality of sleep.
But how much should you go about picking a mattress? Read on to find out.
The Perfect Mattress
The first “mattresses” (read: piles of leaves, grass, or straw covered in animal skins) were invented by cave men and women. Thousands of years later, the Egyptian pharaohs discovered the luxury of raising the bedding off the ground (though common folk continued to sleep on piles of palm bows). Today, many Americans enjoy the luxury of mattress-induced sleep.
Even those who aren’t up on their mattress history know the value of a good night’s sleep. The average person spends about one third of her or his life sleeping. For those who sleep less than that, sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences.
There are lots of great tips for coping with sleep deprivation, but what if the cause is right under our backs? Low-quality, uncomfortable mattresses have been linked to sleep discomfort and pain, and chronic pain can prevent quality sleep.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. While mattresses can hinder sleep quality, they can also improve it. Improved “bedding systems” have been linked to decreased pain and discomfort, especially in women.
The Plan to Sleep Better
When it comes to purchasing the perfect mattress, it turns out there are a lot of mixed messages out there. Some research suggests that foam mattresses create backaches; others say foam helps pain. Some studies advocate for regular cotton mattresses while others say coils create backaches and that airbeds are the way to go. There’s even controversy over the conventional thinking that a firm mattress is better for lower back pain.
If you do find yourself in the market for a new mattress, there are still some useful tips to keep in mind.
Follow these guidelines for a better shot at getting that elusive good night’s sleep.
Replace a mattress approximately every eight years. Keep it longer than that, and the materials might start to degrade, which might make the mattress less comfortable to sleep on. If you’re waking up in pain every day, sleeping poorly, or feeling disgruntled all the time, consider upgrading sooner.
Replace the box spring on a similar time frame. Over time, the compression of the springs (resulting from having a mattress and human bodies on top of it all the time) will start to change the structure of the spring box.
Make comfort your goal. Purchasing a mattress is all about finding the best one for you. Some people like a firm mattress; some like a soft one; others, like Goldilocks, prefer somewhere in between.
Look for a mattress that fits your body. Chiropractors advocate finding a mattress that’s designed to conform to the spine’s natural curve and distribute pressure evenly across the body. This can be tricky, because the surface curve on the mattress doesn’t necessarily represent the way your spine will curve while sleeping on it
Avoid the sag. While researchers are challenging the idea that a firm mattress is essential for anyone with back pain, most experts still agree a saggy mattress isn’t the way to go. To determine if a mattress has too much sag, perform the same “spine alignment observation” outlined above.
Give peace a chance. Even if you loved your new mattress in the store, you might not sleep better on it the first night you bring it home. It can take a couple of days to adjust to a new sleeping surface.
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